Who is to blame for Macbeths Downfall?

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The play MACBETH is filled with suffering. It begins with reports of a bloody battle, an execution of a traitor and Macbeth’s bloodthirsty heroism as he “unseamed” one of the invaders “from the nave of the chaps”. In comparison MacBeth’s later actions are even worse as he commits violent crimes against his own people. Much of the suffering in the play is directly attributable to Macbeth. However, the central focus of the play is the suffering he himself undergoes, as he makes his way through his course of evil.

Macbeth caused the suffering of many during his dark quest to become King of Scotland. Many innocents were brutally slaughtered as a result of Macbeth’s actions, Banquo, King Duncan, Lady Macduff and her children. However many others experienced mental torment and anguish at the hand of Macbeth. Macbeth’s ambitious wife, Lady Macbeth felt guilt for her part in the murder of King Duncan and for murdering sleep she was denied the luxury of sleep driving her to insanity. The Macduff’s also suffered greatly. Lady Macduff witnessed the deaths of her children as they were “Savagely slaughter’d” (4:3:237) Macbeth also caused grief to Macduff as he ordered the slaying of his “Wife, Children, servants, all” (4:3:245)

Macbeth was the cause of much suffering in the play and in turn suffered greatly throughout. Macbeth suffers much indecision from the moment he hears the witches prophesies. He gets confused and is torn between killing or not killing King Duncan. He immediately thinks of killing the king, as he wants so badly to be king, but the idea of committing such a crime appals him. “Why do I yield to that suggestion”(1:3:144), he says in a state of confusion. Macbeth is Duncan’s “kinsman”, “his subject” and “his host”. As his host he should be protecting him, not killing him. Macbeth believes in “even-handed justice” and that if he commits evil, evil will be put upon him. He ultimately decides not to kill the King but Lady Macbeth convinces him otherwise, “What beast was’t then That made you break this enterprise to me?” she asks.

Lady Macbeth does later fell guilt over her part in Duncan’s murder but Macbeth’s guilt is immediate.. Macbeth murders his great king and only moments later feels horrible guilt, “Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood Clean from my hand?”(2:2:77) Blood on hands is a symbol of guilt that Macbeth sees often in this play “with thy bloody and invisible hand” (3:2:53) He feels guilt like he has never experienced before “gouts of blood, which was not so before”(2:1:53) he says.

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